As the LaLiga squad stepped out at their Italian hotel on Monday, hundreds of fans were out to scream the Argentine’s name with references to Maradona.
In Naples they see Lionel Messi as the heir to their legend, Diego Maradona. And as FC Barcelona arrived in the Italian city ahead of Tuesday evening’s Champions League match against Napoli, the welcome made this abundantly clear.
Messi gets Napolese love
Hundreds of people were outside NH Hotel Group’s NH Paradiso waiting for the Barça coach pulling up with the Liga stars on board, and one in particular. The chants revolved around “Messi, Messi,” as they alternated with “Diego, Diego,” and there were songs from the 1980s devoted to their former Argentine hero.
The link with the country and ability of the South American showed a very different welcome for Messi and his team to that of Cristiano Ronaldo when he turned up with Real Madrid. Back then the waiting crowd jeered and booed.
Messi’s comparison with Maradona also took the focus of Napoli boss Reno Gattuso. The game between Napoli and Barcelona kicks off at 21:00 on Tuesday 25 February.
Gee, who just arrived in Naples 🤔 pic.twitter.com/HCbk3D4qXs
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 24, 2020